Let me tell it to you straight.
You NEED Vitamin B6 and Vitamin B12. Not just for testosterone, but for overall health too. See, these nutrients can’t be made or stored in the body. Therefore, you need to replenish these vitamins regularly via external sources. We’ll get to those external sources later on but for now, know that being depleted in these B vitamins could have negative implications to your health. So, what exactly are Vitamin B6 and Vitamin B12 and what makes them so important? Allow me to show you.
WHAT IS VITAMIN B6?
Vitamin B6 is part of 8 B vitamins. These B vitamins are all water soluble which means they can’t be stored in the body and any unused vitamins get flushed out in urine. Vitamin B6 is naturally found in several foods but it may also be added to others. Additionally, it may also be taken as a dietary supplement.
Since it’s not naturally made and found inside our bodies, you might get the impression that it probably isn’t that important. Well, Vitamin B6 is needed by our bodies for over 100 metabolic enzyme reactions so, yeah. It’s pretty important. Vitamin B6 is the generic name for six vitamers that have Vitamin B6 activity, which include:
- Pyridoxine – an alcohol
- Pyridoxal – an aldehyde
- Pyridoxamine – has an amino group
Those vitamers each have corresponding 5’-phosphate esters which include:
- Pyridoxine 5’-phosphate (PNP)
- Pyridoxal 5’ phosphate (PLP or P-5-P)
- Pyridoxamine 5’ phosphate (PMP)
PNP, the ester for the Pyridoxine vitamer in Vitamin B6 is derived from plants while PLP and PMP are the major forms found in animals. For purposes of this article, I’ll focus largely on PLP and PMP. You’ll understand why in the next part.
WHAT ARE THE FUNCTIONS OF VITAMIN B6 IN THE BODY?
Since I’ve already mentioned the over 100 metabolic reactions that Vitamin B6 is involved in, you might be wondering what these are. First, let me explain how our bodies process Vitamin B6.
In animals (humans included), the major form of Vitamin B6 is PLP, followed then by PMP. PNP is absorbed less effectively as compared to PLP and PMP. Most of the Vitamin B6 we take, including PNP (which is generally found in low concentrations) and PMP, goes to the liver where it is subsequently oxidized and converted into PLP.
PLP has a strong capacity to bind with protein tissues (including muscle, hemoglobin, and plasma), which to my understanding, protects it from hydrolysis or breakdown. This allows our bodies to accumulate extremely high levels of PLP (and PMP) as compared to other forms of Vitamin B6.
Some of the metabolic functions of Vitamin B6 include:
- Protein metabolism
- Amino acid metabolism
- Carbohydrate metabolism
- Fat or lipid metabolism
Vitamin B6 is also involved in cognitive development and immunity.
WHAT HAPPENS IF I DON’T HAVE ENOUGH VITAMIN B6?
Since you already know how important Vitamin B6 is to quite a number of metabolic processes, the next question you might have is this. Honestly though, serious Vitamin B6 deficiency isn’t very common but it can still happen and when it does happen, it’s linked to a myriad of scary illnesses which include heart disease, cognitive decline, and cancer among others. Here are some of the symptoms you should watch out for:
- Muscle weakness
- Anxiety and Depression
- Difficulty concentrating
- Short-term memory loss
FOODS RICH IN VITAMIN B6
The food you see here are everyday foods that you and I eat on a regular basis. This partly explains why serious Vitamin B6 deficiency is uncommon. However, to picky eaters (such as myself), mild Vitamin B6 deficiency could be a thing. For more information on Vitamin B6 rich foods, click here.
- Poultry (such as chicken and turkey)
- Fish (such as tuna and salmon)
- Organ meat (such as beef liver)
- Dairy (such as milk and cheese)
- Some vegetables (including lentils, beans, spinach, and carrots)
- Brown rice
WHAT IS VITAMIN B12
Since we’ve already touched on Vitamin B6, it’s time to move on to Vitamin B12.
Like I said earlier, all B vitamins are water soluble and can’t be stored by our bodies. Vitamin B12 is no exception. Their similarities don’t end there, though. As with Vitamin B6, Vitamin B12 also isn’t produced by our bodies. In fact, no plant or animal is capable of producing B12. Which begs the question, if neither animals nor plants can make this vitamin, what the hell can?
The answer my friends, is bacteria and archaea. These microorganisms are the only beings that have the enzymes that are capable of synthesizing Vitamin B12. As such, lab-derived or synthetic B12 is made by fermenting bacteria which is then used to fortify foods.
See that picture to right of your screen? Yeah, that’s Vitamin B12. It’s the biggest and most complicated vitamin. See what’s right in the middle of all this complication? That’s cobalt and all forms of Vitamin B12 have this mineral. As such, Vitamin B12 is collectively known as cobalmin.
Cobalmin has four forms and understanding each form makes you aware of which ones to take. These are the following:
- Cyanocobalamin – This is lab derived or synthetic B12 that I was talking about and because it’s synthetic, it’s also the cheapest one and might probably even be the most stable form of B12. However, it’s really not the best option. See, cynacobalamin is stable because of the presence of a cyanide molecule. It’s not dangerous but it’s taxing on the body to have to remove this molecule and convert it to methylcobalamin.
- Methylcobalamin – Speaking of which, this is the most active form of Vitamin B12 in the human body. It readily crosses the blood-brain barrier without assistance. Compared to cynacobalamin, you save your cells some much needed energy with methylcobalamin.
- Adenosylcobalamin – According to this article, Methylcobalamin and Adenosylcobalamin are coenzymes that our bodies need for various metabolic reactions. This is also believed to be a better form compared to cynacobalamin because cynacobalamin has to be converted into this form before finally becoming Methylcobalamin.
- Hydroxocobalamin – Lastly, this is the type of Vitamin B12 that is made by bacteria and is the main type found in foods. As the writer of this article on the Journal of The Royal Society oF Medicine states, “I know of no condition in which it has been claimed that cyanocobalamin is preferable to hydroxocobalamin.” So yeah, this one’s better than Cynacobalamin too. However, it also seems as though this still needs to be converted to Methycobalamin after consumption.
According to the National Institutes of Health, Methylcobalamin and Adenosylcobalamin are the active forms in human metabolism. If you intend on taking Vitamin B12, my advise is to go for these two. Although, the best plan of action would still and always will be to consult your doctor first.
WHAT ARE THE FUNCTIONS OF VITAMIN B12 IN THE BODY?
Similar to vitamin B6, vitamin B12 is also involved in quite a number of different bodily functions. As such, maintaining healthy levels of Vitamin B12 in the body is essential to keeping your overall health in check. Listed below are just some of the functions attributed to this healthy vitamin.
- Red blood cell formation
- Neurological function
- DNA synthesis
- Fat or lipid metabolism
- Protein metabolism
Also, because Vitamin B12 plays a role in fat, protein, and even carbohydrate metabolism, it helps the body produce more energy.
WHAT HAPPENS IF I DON’T HAVE ENOUGH VITAMIN B12?
Considering that B12 is an essential vitamin to maintaining overall health, Vitamin B12 deficiency can also lead to several ailments. Symptoms of Vitamin B12 deficiency include the following:
- Pale skin
- Glossitis (sore and red tongue)
- Tinging feeling on your skin (paresthesia)
- Anxiety and depression
- Mood swings
- Mental decline (memory and judgement)
FOODS RICH IN VITAMIN B12
I know I said plants and animals can’t make their own Vitamin B12 and only bacteria and archaea can. Given how important Vitamin B12 is to many bodily functions, this sounds like bad news. However, bacteria found in the gut of animals can make Vitamin B12 which is why external sources of this vitamin often come from food. These include:
- Fish (sardines, salmon, tuna, cod, trout)
- Meat (lamb, beef)
- Poultry (chicken, turkey)
- Dairy (milk, yogurt, cheese)
If you’re a vegetarian, you might be scratching your head because these foods are from animal sources. Mind you, plants don’t have guts that have Vitamin B12 synthesizing bacteria like animals do. However, fear not, my vegan friends. Breakfast cereals fortified with Vitamin B12 are a safe choice for you.
WHAT’S THE CONNECTION BETWEEN VITAMIN B6 & B12 WITH TESTOSTERONE?
Finally, we get to the good part. It’s been a long time coming, eh? While vitamin B6 and B12 are essential for various bodily functions, there are also a few researches that linked these two vitamins to testosterone and manly health. Let’s take a look.
VITAMIN B6 STUDY #1
The researchers of this study fed rats a Vitamin B6 free diet for 4 weeks. In other words, the tested rats didn’t have any sort of Vitamin B6 for 1 month. The aim of this study was to “cause a moderately severe degree of vitamin B6 depletion” to study the uptake and sensitivity of target tissues to testosterone. The researchers then measured the testosterone levels of the control group and the Vitamin B6 deficient group. These are the results after 4 weeks:
- Control – 8.36 +/- 1.68 nmol/l
- Deficient – 2.13 +/- 0.54 nmol/l
As you can see, Vitamin B6 deficiency lead to significantly lower concentrations of circulating testosterone. Additionally, the researchers didn’t find any changes to LH and prostate weight.
To conclude the study, the researchers said that “vitamin B6 has a function in the action of testosterone (and other steroid hormones)” and that “vitamin B6 deficient animals have either a reduced rate of synthesis of testosterone or an increased rate of metabolic clearance compared with vitamin B6 supplemented controls”.
VITAMIN B6 STUDY #2
In this second study, the goal was to study the effects of high doses of Vitamin B6 on male reproductive organs. The study was again, conducted on male rats that were divided into 5 groups depending on the dosage they were given.
- Control group
- 125 mg/kg
- 250 mg/kg
- 500 mg/kg
- 1000 mg/kg
These dosages were injected into Wistar rats for 5 days a week for 2 or 6 weeks. Here are the results:
- 2 weeks
- There was a decrease in the absolute weights of the testis and sperm counts in the epididymis in the 500 mg/kg and 1000 mg/kg groups.
- There was also a decrease in the weight of the prostate gland and mature spermatid counts in the testis in the 1000 mg/kg groups.
- 6 weeks
- There was a decrease in the absolute and relative weights of the testis, epididymis, prostate gland and seminal vesicle in the 500 mg/kg and 1000 mg/kg groups
- Mature spermatid counts in the testis and sperm counts in the epididymis also decreased in these same groups.
Additionally, the study also says that plasma testosterone concentration did not significantly change in all the Vitamin B6 injected groups.
VITAMIN B12 STUDY #1
The goal of this first study was to evaluate the role of cobalamin (Cbl) on spermatogenesis. The effects of Vitamin B12 deficiency was studied in male fetuses and newborn rats. Here are the researchers observations:
- At 16 days of gestation and at 0 days of age of newborns
- Vitamin B12 deficient – no difference
- Vitamin B12 supplemented – no difference
- At 21 days of age
- Vitamin B12 deficient – decreased number of spermatogonia and no spermatocytes.
- At 60 days of age
- Vitamin B12 deficient – An interrupted development of spermatids and spermatozoa was detected
As you can see, Vitamin B12 deficiency lead to abnormalities in sperm. Additionally, the researchers also said that the effects caused by Vitamin B12 deficiency can be reversed by B12 supplementation.
VITAMIN B12 STUDY #2
This second study was done on humans to study the effects of Vitamin B12 on male infertility. The study included 26 male subjects who were administered a daily 1,500 micrograms of Vitamin 12 for 4 to 24 weeks. Semen analysis was then conducted from 8 weeks after the administration. These are the results:
- Sperm concentration increased in 10 cases (38.4%)
- Total sperm counts increased in 14 cases (53.8%)
- Sperm motility increased in 13 cases (50.0%)
- Total motile sperm count increased in 13 cases (50.0%)
The researchers also found that serum LH, FSH and testosterone remain unchanged.
Vitamin B6 and B12 are healthy vitamins that are essential to maintaining overall health. However, when it comes to testosterone, there have been limited research studies conducted to investigate the impact of these two vitamins with regards to our favorite man-enhancing hormone.
What I did find out from the researches I stated here is that Vitamin B6 might play a key role in maintaining healthy levels of testosterone and that Vitamin B12 helps enhance our manhood by improving the quality of our sperm. Overall though, while Vitamin B6 and B12 currently don’t seem to directly impact testosterone boosting, they might play a role in increasing testosterone synthesis. I just really can’t say this with 100% conviction because the strong evidence isn’t there yet but for what it’s worth, these are still welcome additions to testosterone boosting products.